I have been playing around on G+ the last week to 10 days or so and I have to say Google has finally done it. I have always said and basically thought "why doesn't Google do something that could rival flickr, facebook, deviantart....something...anything!!??!?" Something where artists from all walks of life could get together in an atmosphere that THEY essentially pick and choose. It isn't like Google doesn't have the power to change things up in the game after all.
I am here today to tell you that they have. Drastically.
I think in many ways G+ is what I have personally been longing for and seeking all along, though until recently it just never existed. Facebook is great, but it's image quality issues with photos has always bothered me, and honestly the whole interface is just dated and clunky. Flickr? Flickr rocks but I don't especially want to spend another $30 a year on a site. DA? Well....I think everyone reading this already knows what my issues are with DA, and quite frankly this isn't what this post is all about. G+ on the other hand makes it possible to network in a way that never really before existed...it is like twitter in a way but much more personal and much more intense. The only way I can really think to describe it would be similar to how the message center in DA works with the ability to communicate directly.
The whole thing works on what are called "circles" which are very similar to twitter "lists". With one click you can switch on the fly from your "photographers circle" to "friends circle" and so forth. It is utterly streamlined like no other social site currently is today. There is also no character limit that I have seen with status updates, unlike facebook. The control is pretty amazing, too...you choose who you want to watch and assign them accordingly to whatever circle you wish to.
However what really got me is the photography aspect.
For photographers G+ is like the invention of electricity. The quality of the images is simply just outstanding and the way you communicate and network with other photographers is nothing short of amazing. The way photos are presented is done really well, and unlike on DA when you have to click all these different things when you wish to edit the artists description, on G+ it is one click and done, done in one single editing box under the photo itself. (similar to how flickr works in that sense) Also in the gallery view, you see a balloon on the thumbnail telling you how many comments each photo has...also you have the ability to see EXIF and Histogram information.
What Google has done with Picasa is nothing short of amazing. Once again Picasa is relevant, and the Picasa web albums...fully integrated with G+ and is now essentially unlimited
"While Picasa Web Albums offer 1GB of free storage for photos and videos, files under certain size limits won’t count towards this free storage limit. If you’re a Google+ user, photos up to 2048×2048 pixels and videos up to 15 minutes won’t eat up your storage space. For non-Google+ users, the photo size limit is smaller: 800×800 pixels" (videos are also under 15 minutes). http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2011/07/picasa-offers-virtually-unlimited-storage-brings-google-tagging/
How they integrated with G+ is downright silly slick. I will say that, and makes G+ a legitimate full on flickr contender. In fact, Picasa is going to be getting renamed to Google Photos. Chrome integration...it is really neat with how you simply add a bookmark for G+ to your bookmarks bar and it notifies you live of any activity. However it goes even much farther....
Imagine for one sec, one site that has it all...social networking, portfolios, blogging, email...all. Something where you can handle every aspect of your photography. From getting critiques on your images to the ability to be emailed and contacted from someone who is interested in purchasing a print, to a place that is "family safe" to send people to see your work and not having to worry about people leaving rude comments on images. This is what is called the "Homebase" aspect of G+. Every aspect will be getting incorporated in to G+ that Google currently owns. Say you have a photoblog on Blogger for instance, you are about to be able to witness a makeover soon that integrates your blog fully in to G+. Gmail? Full on compatibility with G+. Even Google Talk itself, with being able to hold "huddles" live with other like minded individuals using G+. It is hard to say in words how much of a game changer G+ is, but for us who are artists, it really is, big time.
There was a kind of "push the panic" button recently when photographer Scott Bourne penned an article on his very popular "PhotoFocus" blog titled "Google Plus – Read the Fine Print BEFORE You Sign Up" http://photofocus.com/2011/07/06/google-plus-read-the-fine-print-before-you-sign-up/ which lead to many other well known photographers like Jim Goldstein writing an article on his blog basically countering everything which Scott said (personally I listen to Jim a LOT more than I do Scott, Jim knows his stuff!) with "How I Evaluate Terms of Service for Social Media Web Sites – Google+" http://www.jmg-galleries.com/blog/2011/07/08/how-i-evaluate-terms-of-service-for-social-media-web-sites-google/#ixzz1S032TlIa The PetaPixel Photoblog also took on Scott's claims too, and wrote an article on their blog titled "FUD Over Google+’s Terms of Service" http://www.petapixel.com/2011/07/12/fud-over-googles-terms-of-service/
There are some really excellent links I have found that basically say what I have been saying here which are very much geared for photographers ...
*GOOGLE+ VS. FLICKR VS. FACEBOOK VS. 500PX VS. TWITTER-- by Thomas Hawk http://thomashawk.com/2011/07/google-vs-flickr-vs-facebook-vs-500px-vs-twitter.html
* TOP 10 TIPS ON GOOGLE+ FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS---by Thomas Hawk http://thomashawk.com/2011/07/top-10-tips-on-google-for-photographers.html
* Photographers, Get On Google Plus---by Craig Ferguson http://www.craigfergusonimages.com/2011/07/photographers-get-on-google-plus/
* Photographers on Google+--- by Seven By Five Photoblog http://www.sevenbyfive.net/capture/photographers-on-google/
* How to turn Google+ into an online photography portfolio--- by Nancy Messieh http://thenextweb.com/google/2011/07/03/how-to-turn-google-into-an-online-photography-portfolio/
*Google+ May Not Kill Facebook But Flickr Should Be Worried--- by Photography @ The Photo Arcade Photoblog http://blogs.thephotoarcade.com/?p=816
All in all, G+ is the start of something new and something brilliant. I just wish it had come out 2 years ago or so instead of just now. I recently read though that G+ has been in development over the last 5 years almost. After being on here, I can understand why. Google set out to seriously change things in a very big way, and they have. Right now it is safe to say that there is no other site like it for photographers, absolutely none.
I can be found here on G+ http://gplus.to/jdebord Though Google+ is still in closed beta, I have a few invites left, not many however. If you would like one, please comment in my journal and I will see what I can do, no promises however. Also you will need a Gmail account, it is required.